A common theme in cheeky articles and fueling the ubiquitous pastime of picking on younger generations is a call for “adulting classes” to fill in skill gaps that are supposedly not getting passed down from one generation to another.
Curriculum suggestions range from how to write a check, to shopping for an apartment, to three ways to cook an egg. Guidance on dressing for an interview or getting a blood stain from a garment are often on the list as well.
Much of the advice is well and good, I suppose, but sometimes I think the very people who declare the need for these classes are, perhaps, the ones most in need of adulting classes. Because face it, being an adult today is nothing like being an adult was just a few decades ago. And adults who don’t keep their own adulting skills sharp and up-to-date are ultimately the ones who fall behind.
So I propose a continuing ed adulting curriculum that looks something like this:
Google 101: All things “adulting” can be answered by typing the question into the search bar of your internet browser. In fact, try searching something you think you already know. Suddenly you’ll see a wealth of information of alternative ways to complete menial tasks.
Did you know you can hard boil an egg in a pressure cooker? In the microwave? In the oven? With or without an ice bath? Oh, you already knew all that? Well, can you boil an ostrich egg? The internet can. Search any practical question, and you will become a veritable MacGyver on the subject. What? You don’t know what MacGyver means? Google that too!
Cell Phone Literacy: Rotary dials may stump kids today, but before you laugh, you better brush up on your cell phoning skills. Can you troubleshoot a Wifi connection problem? What is included in your cell phone plan? How do you save your photos to the cloud? What even IS the cloud, anyway?
Transportation Basics: Your tire is flat. Your dad taught you how to change a tire, but you’re all dressed up and you simply don’t want to. Plus you’re in a rush to an appointment you need to get to. Do you call your son? Your neighbor? Maybe, but there’s another way! Do you have Lyft or Uber installed on your phone and ready to go? You should, because with a touch of a button, you can have a driver there to whisk you home. And the tire? Roadside assist is pretty good with a jack.
Sensitivity Training for Toughies: Do you find it entertaining to make fun of millenials for needing safe spaces and their heightened senses of self awareness and emotional needs? Do you think political correctness is for chumps? Then you might just benefit from some sensitivity training. It’s no longer “strong” or funny to be cruel. Basic decency is a thing. A good thing.
Online Money Tools. Deposit a check from your Barcalounger. Compare that hand-written register to transactions – without waiting for your statement to show up. Pay your friend back for lunch with PayPal, or buy it yourself with your cell phone. And that cell phone training will be a crucial step, to enable two-step authentication for internet security.
Knee-Jerk Discernment: Is the IRS leaving messages on your answering machine threatening to “call the cops” if you don’t pay? Does a prince in Nigeria have a million dollars he’d like to give you? Does your news source have information not seen anywhere else? It’s time to flex that discernment and sort truth from scams, and facts from falsehoods.
Before we complain about “kids these days,” I suggest we all take a step back, and think about what has changed, and if our expectations have kept up with the reality of today. Our wisdom still passes down, but that comes in the soft skills – conducting oneself professionally, being thoughtful, being reliable, how to ace an interview, saying please and thank you, pursuing passions, acceptance and reaching goals are the real skills of adulting.
And the most important adulting skill of all is to never stop learning.
Emily Parnell lives in Overland Park and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org